Bzyt Archtecture Essay Research Paper The greatest

Bzyt Archtecture Essay, Research Paper

The greatest of medieval civilizations was the Eastern Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was divided in 395. The Western half, ruled from Rome, was ruled by the barbarians in the 5th century. The Eastern half, known as the Byzantine Empire, lasted for more than over 1,000 years. The Byzantine Empire was one of the leading civilizations in the world.

Byzantine Architecture

Is a mixed style composed of Graeco-Roman and Oriental elements which, The form of the church used most in the west, a the long rectangular part of the cathedral with the alter in it is supported on columns and an atrium appears in many examples of the fifth century in Byzantine. In the West this style of building occasionally presents similarities which are thought by some authorities to be of Oriental origin — galleries over the side aisles, spirally channelled columns, and imposts between capitals and arches. Vaulted basilicas were made at a early date in Constantinople. The domical style, with barrel-vaulted side aisles and transepts is a favourite with the Byzantines. Many of the oldest basilicas in Asia Minor, as well as the Church of St. Irene, Constantinople, carried one or more domes. This type leads to the structure in a centralized circular, octagonal, or cross shaped plan. In ancient Roman times tombs and baths had this sort of plan. These types of buildings cannot be seen as only Byzantium, because the Romans and Oriental also used these kinds of plans. Even in Italy, the churches there were strongly influenced bu the many influences from the west and particularly from the Byzantine.

In the church of St. Sophia, built by Justinian, all the principal forms of the early Christian churches are represented. A rotunda is enclosed in a square, and covered with a dome which is supported in the direction of the long axis of the building by half-domes over semicircular rounded ends of the building. In this manner a basilica, 236 feet long and 98 feet wide, and provided with domes, is developed out of a central chamber. Then the domical church is developed to the form of a long rectangle by two side aisles, which are denied of their significance by the massive piers. In front of all this, on the entrance side, are placed a wide atrium with passages and two vestibules . The stupendous main dome, which is hemispherical on the interior, flatter, or saucer-shaped, on the exterior, and pierced with forty large windows. The ancient system of columns has only a lessor significance, supporting the galleries which open upon the long rectangular part of the chuch that has the alter in it. Light flows in through the numerous windows of the upper and lower stories and of the domes. The dome, with its great span carried on piers, arches, and pendentives, constitutes one of the greatest achievements of architecture. (The pendentives are the triangular surface of which a circular dome can be supported on the crests of four arches arranged on a square plan.).

The architects of St. Sophia were Asiatics: Anthemius of Tralles and Isodorus of Miletus. In other great basilicas, local influences had great power in determining the character of the architecture, e. g. the churches of the Nativity, of the Holy Sepulchre, and of the Ascension, built in Palestine after the time of Constantine. This is still more obvious in the costly decorations of these churches. Their love of splendour is shown in the piling up of domes and still more in facing the walls with slabs of marble, in mosaics, in gold and colour decorations, and in the many-coloured marbles of the columns and other architectural details. Nothing seems to reveal the character of Byzantine architecture so much as the absence of work in the higher forms of sculpture, and the change of high into low decoration by means of interwoven traceries, in which the chiselled ornaments became flatter, more linear, and lacelike. Besides the vestibules which originally surrounded St. Sophia, the columns with their capitals recall the antique. These columns almost invariably supported arches instead of the architrave and were, for that reason, reinforced by a block of stone placed on top and shaped to conform to the arch. Gradually, however, the capital itself was cut to the broader form of a truncated square pyramid, as in St. Sophia. The capitals are at times quite bare, when they serve at the same time as imposts or intermediate supporting blocks, at other times they are marked with monograms or covered with a network of carving, the latter transforming them into basketlike capitals. Flat ornamentations of flowers and animals are also found. The fortress like character of the church buildings, the sharp expression of the constructive forms, the squatty appearance of the domes, the basic grouping of many parts, these are all more in accordance with the coarser work of the later period of the Byzantine. Two other types of Justinian’s time are presented by the renovated church of the Apostles and the church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus. Both churches are in the capital. It is a dome-crowned octagon with an exterior aisle. The former church was built on the plan of a Greek Cross with four equal arms with a dome over the crossing and one over each arm.

During the period of the Macedonian emperors, Basil I and Leo VI, an upward trend in politics, literature, and art set in. The Greek basilica, which is a lengthened structure, barrel-vaulted and provided with one or more domes, is also widely represented in this period, while the western form of basilica, with the wooden ceiling wasn’t used anymore. A type appearing more frequently is the domical church plan or the Greek-cross plan. The Koimesis, or Dormitio, in Nicaea has a clear basilica plan. The same with the church of the Holy Mother of God at Constantinople, dating from the tenth century, and of the churches of Mt. Athos. The church at Skripu in Boeotia, of the same period, has three naves each ending in an apse, but the dome crowns the middle of the building as in the Greek- cross type. The exteriors of these churches, which are usually rather small, are treated with greater care and are artistically decorated with alternations of stone and brick, smaller domes over the vestibules, a richer system of domes, and the elevation of these domes by means of drums. The interiors are decorated very nicely. It seems that they could not do enough in this respect. This can still be seen in the church of St. Luke in Phocis, at Daphni, in the Nea Moni at Chio, and others. In this period the perfected art of the capital becomes the model for the empire as well as for regions beyond its borders: Syria, Armenia, Russia, Venice, Middle and Southern Italy, and Sicily. For the West, it is only necessary to mention the church of St. Mark at Venice.

After its occupation by the Crusaders in 1204, Constantinople partly lost its character and at the same time the far-reaching influence of its communication with Western nations. There still remained four centres of Byzantine art: the capital itself, Mt. Athos, Hellas, and Trebizond. The architecture of Mt. Athos presents the most faithful reflection of the Byzantine style. The model of the church of the monastery of Laura, belonging to the previous period, is more or less faithfully reproduced. A dome, supported on four sides by barrel vaults, stands directly over the middle of the transept, which is terminated at either end by a round apse. The real architectural ornaments are forced into the background by the costly mosaics and which practically cover all available wall surface. The architecture of this period remained still.


the short history of the byzantium Empire 1986 bill blackman


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